Three persons viewing the Gladiator by candle-light

L 923


This was the first of the 'candlelights' - anticipating his celebrated 'Orrery' and the 'Experiment on a Bird in the air-pump' - that Wright exhibited in public. The work is a mediatation on the relative artistic merits of drawing, printmaking and sculpture, as three connoisseurs compare a model of the antique sculpture, the 'Gladiator', with a seventeenth-century print of it. Wright depicted himself as the figure on the right and in the centre, lit by the hidden candle, is his friend Peter Perez Burdett, the man who later encouraged Wright to come and work in Liverpool.